Democrats in the House Reject Speaker Johnson’s Border Requests

House Democrats rejected Speaker Mike Johnson’s border security demands in exchange for additional Ukraine aid this week, further complicating Congress’ efforts to approve another round of military aid for Kyiv.

On Wednesday, Johnson said House Republicans would block any new assistance for Ukraine unless major provisions of the GOP-passed border bill – including the reinstatement of the Trump-era “remain in Mexico” policy and hundreds of miles of new border wall – accompany it.

“That border fight is coming, and we’re going to die on that hill,” Johnson told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

According to The Hill, the speaker’s remarks immediately inflamed House Democrats, who reportedly are supportive of new funding for border security, but not the strict immigration measures Republicans are seeking. They’re threatening to vote against any Ukraine package that includes such provisions, which would doom the bill as Democrat votes would be needed for it to advance.

“That would be ridiculous,” Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., told The Hill. “Unfortunately it would be to the detriment of Ukraine if they did that.”

Democrat lawmakers also railed against the 900 miles of new border wall that’s featured in the Republicans’ border bill, warning they’ll never back a Ukraine aid package that includes anything similar.

“That’s a nonstarter for me, and I think for most of us,” Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., told The Hill.

Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the senior Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, echoed Vargas’ concerns, saying, “I don’t think it’s realistic.”

Going a step further, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Republicans were trying to stir up nativist sentiment among voters by offering simplistic solutions for complex problems.

“That wall’s always been about political symbolism for Republicans, and it continues to be that,” Grijalva told The Hill. “The fact that it has failed, the fact that it costs money — wastes money — seems to be irrelevant. I think it’s just the same rhetoric from the last 10 years.”

In December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Washington to appeal to lawmakers for more funding for his country, which is struggling to repel the Russian invasion after almost two years of conflict.

Senate negotiators who have been working to put together a Ukraine aid package that includes border security have so far been unable to reach an agreement. Any deal will face an uphill battle to final passage in the House, where a large and growing faction of Republicans have become skeptical of funding Kyiv’s security instead of U.S. security.

The issue is creating a huge problem for Johnson, not just with Democrats who are against his border demands, but also with members of his own conference.

“No more funding for Ukraine,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said Thursday. “And that’s where I am completely different right now than the speaker and others in my conference. If he wants to give $60 billion in a deal with Democrats trading America’s border security, then he’s gonna find himself in deep trouble not only with me, but other conservatives in our conference and conservatives across America.”

Ukraine funding was one of the reasons cited by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., when he successfully moved to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. Johnson now faces the same conservative contingent that’s determined to rein in government spending.

“I don’t even want to fund my government if the administration won’t secure the border, let alone fund Ukraine’s government in exchange for defending America,” Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, told CNN Thursday.

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